Jesus wasn't naïve.
He knew how the Jews – his own - were being dispossessed and oppressed, systematically.
The Romans created an entire industry to bring in exotic animals for the simple “pleasure” of watching them be murdered. Whole species of God’s precious creatures were brought to extinction, and Jesus knew.
People – God’s precious children – were being trafficked for cruel purposes: labor, sex, murder. The government was in on this – they vigorously protected the rights of slave-owners.
In Rome, a father could beat, mutilate or murder his own wife and children, his slaves or animals, without fear of retribution. Patriarchy in its most perverted forms was perpetrated in Rome.
A common evil that occurred at the time of Christ was child exposure. Babies were being abandoned in woods and on hilltops. These wretched killings were not forbidden in Rome until the late 4th century, and at the time of Christ, were accepted.
Orgies of lust and blood and hate and exploitation abounded all around him, and yet, we don’t see Jesus take the kind of forceful actions we might expect.
We have almost no record of Jesus fighting the contemporary “social justice” issues of his day. We do see him in personal encounters with tax collectors (systematic oppressors), prostitutes, Samaritans, lepers and the mentally ill.
Christians cannot ignore the seeming disconnect between the kingdom of God - with it’s message of love for the poor and outcast - and the relative silence of the gospels around abortion, murder, slavery, rape and systematic oppression, during the time of the ministry of Jesus.
I’ve been coaching middle school boys basketball for a little under two decades, and it is one of my greatest joys.
Our season was cancelled this year due to covid and it was a real drag. So, while I’ve been at tournaments with my son Noah these past two weekends, it took everything in me to refrain from being “that parent” and running out to the coach between games with “tactical recommendations”. I sat on my hands and bit my lip in the stands.
One of the things you learn sitting in the stands is how powerful referees are – they determine the outcome of almost every single game 😉
I remind my players all the time – the referees blow several calls each game, sure, but - how many layups did we miss? How many free throws? Did we – all of us - box out on every shot? How many turnovers did we have? How many times did we let the other team get ahead on the fast break because we were mentally or physically loafing?
I scout other teams to put my kids in the best position to win. Last year, in our final game, I put in a unique defense to limit a particularly strong opposing player.
Almost always, however, the most important thing I think I can do as coach is make sure my kids are achieving OUR goals. In almost every single case, if we do this, we will win.
And when we lose, it is most frequently about how we failed to meet those objectives.
We can't get distracted fighting the right battle in the wrong ways.
What is the supreme objective – the strategic focus - of Christ and his church? The scriptures teach us that one thing CONQUERS all – LOVE.
Jesus defeated death by death. He was a "social justice warrior" in truth because justice can never be about victory over others. It can only be about reconciliation.
The civil rights movement was a success, if not completely. What were their weapons of aggression? They were two: Suffering and love.
Misguided revolutionaries talk about victory at any cost and tend to leave more destruction and lingering resentment in their wake.
True revolutionaries – Gandhi, MLK, Socrates, Jesus – count the cost, and indeed, it is high. Nevertheless, they pay in love, aggressive love, for it is the only way forward, the only way to bring in the Kingdom of Heaven.
When we keep chanting slogans, keep toeing party lines, keep requiring purity tests – we make things worse, not better.
If you are a believer, and even if you are not – do you really think Jesus wasn’t brokenhearted about the wretchedness - the degradation of his creation - that surrounded him on every side?
Many of his followers saw these evils and wanted him to go to war. They were not alone.
“… the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’”
The Devil’s strategy is conquest. I see a lot of political warriors on both sides who want to defeat the "others."
It’s a losing strategy, and we have to lay it down, though it might cost us our lives.
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"Examine all things; hold on to the good."
-Saint Paul the Apostle